Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World
BOOK 5 THE SIGN-LANGUAGE OF ASTRONOMICAL MYTHOLOGY
Deluded visionaries, lift your eyes,
Behold the truths from which your fables rise!
These were realities of heavenly birth,
And ye pursue their shadows on the earth.
“The wisdom of the Egyptians” , said Augustine, “what was it but astronomy?” ( City of God, B. 18, ch. 39). The answer is that it was not simply the science of astronomy in the modern sense, but astronomical mythology was the subject of subjects with the ancient “mystery-teachers of the heavens”, as the Egyptian Urshi or astronomers were self-designated. The most puerile report of all which has played false with us so long is the exoteric tradition in the Hebrew Pentateuch.
Professor Sayce has asserted that “Babylonia was really the cradle of astronomical observation” ( Hibbert Lect., p. 397). To which one might reply with the wise Egyptian, “Do you really know that, or is it that you only pretend to know?” The author of Researches into the Origin of the Constellations of the Greeks, Phoenicians, and Babylonians also claims a Euphratean origin for these, whilst admitting that “Egypt was not indebted to any foreign region for her original scheme of constellations, which are entirely or almost entirely distinct” (Robert Brown, Jun.). But it is useless or puerile to discuss the genesis of astronomical mythology with the African originals omitted, and without allowing for the alterations that were made by Greeks and Euphrateans in the course of transmitting a celestial chart. To omit the Kamite “wisdom” from the reckoning is to dispense with evolution and leave no ground for a beginning - no gauge of time nor data of development. Moreover, the primary question of the origins is not astronomical but mythological. The types of this Sign-language had [Page 270] been founded in totemism. These were first employed for distinguishing the human motherhoods and brotherhoods. They were reapplied to the elemental powers in mythology, and afterwards repeated in the constellation figures as a mode of record in the heavens which can still be read by aid of the Egyptian wisdom, but not by means of the Semitic legendary lore. The primitive constellations might be described as Egyptian ideographs configurated in groups of stars, with the view of determining time and season and of registering the prehistoric human past.
The principle of representation was similar to that of the modern teachers who draw their diagrams upon the blackboard. In like manner the mystery teachers of the heavens approximately shaped the constellation figures on the background of the dark, to be seen at night and to be expounded in the mysteries. For example, if they were desirous of memorizing some likeness of the old primeval home in Apta at the horn-point of the earth, this would naturally be done by repeating the especial imagery of the equatorial regions at the highest point of beginning in the northern heaven as seen in Egypt. Or, if they wished to show that the river of the inundation issued from an abyss of water in the remotest south, this could be accomplished by constellating the course of the stream in heaven on its long and winding way from the star Achernar to the star Rigel at the foot of Orion. Hence the water of the inundation was depicted in and as the river Eridanus. The contest between Horus the lord of light and the serpent of the dark was made uranographic in the “ Serpent-Holder” . The conflict betwixt Horus who came by water and the dragon of drought was exhibited by the Apap-reptile being drowned in the inundation as the monster “Hydra” . The scene configurated in the southern heaven where the conqueror Orion rose to bruise the serpent's head or crush the dragon under foot is also represented in the Ritual when Apap is once more put in bonds, cut up piecemeal, and submerged in the green lake of heaven ( ch. 39). Other
imagery in the planisphere bears witness to the drowning of the dragon Apap in the waters of the inundation. The monster imaged in “Hydra” is treated as carrion by the crow that is perched upon it, pecking at its dead body. Or, if we suppose the mystery teachers of the heavens wished to constellate a figure of the mount of earth amidst the waters of surrounding space, and that this was in the time of the most primitive mound-builders, when no conical pillar could as yet be carved in wood or stone, how would they figure the object-picture forth as a uranograph ? The earth was thought of as a mount amid the firmamental water, and to image this they would naturally raise a mound of earth. At the same time the heap of earth had acquired a sacred character in relation to the dead, and had become a kind of altar mound piled up with offerings of food. And such a figure we find in Ara, the southern altar or the altar mound. The earliest altar raised had been the mound of earth, and this was used to typify the mount of earth. Aratos, speaking of “the southern altar's sacred seat” , calls this constellation “a mighty sign”.
Manilius says of the constellation, “Ara mundi templum est” (Astron. i.427). It is traditionally connected with the war of the earth-born giants or elemental powers which were succeeded by the glorious ones or khuti in the astral [Page 271] mythos. The Mesopotamian mound-builders likewise show us that the most primitive type of foundation was the mound, that the earth-mound passed into the foundation of brickwork as the pillar, and the pillar culminated in the Ziggurat. So in Egypt the earth-mound led up to the pyramid with steps, that culminated in the altar-mound of stone. The Chinese still call the altar a mound. Because of its being a figure of the earth amidst the N un, the altar-mound was raised immediately after the deluge in the Semitic mythos. In this way the teachers who first glorified the storied windows of the heavens, like some cathedral of immensity, with their pictures of the past, are demonstrably Egyptian, because the
Sign-Ianguage, the mythos, the legends, and the eschatology involved are wholly Egyptian, and entirely independent of all who came after them. The so-called “wisdom of the ancients” was Egyptian when the elemental powers were represented first as characters in mythology. It was Egyptian when that primeval mythology was rendered astronomically. It is also Egyptian in the phase of eschatology. Speaking generally, and it would be difficult to speak too generally from the present stand-point, the Egyptian mythology is the source of the märchen, the legends, and the folk-lore of the world, whilst the eschatology is the fountain-head of all the religious mysteries. that lie betwixt the earliest totemic and the latest Osirian, that were ultimately continued in the religion of ancient Rome. The mysteries were a
dramatic mode of communicating the secrets of primitive knowledge in Sign-Ianguage when this had been extended to the astronomical mythology . Hence, we repeat, the Egyptian urshi or astronomers were known by the title of “mystery teachers of the heavens”, because they explained the mysteries of primitive astronomy.
For one thing, a later theology has wrought havoc with the beginnings previously evolved and naturally rendered. And we have consequently been egregiously misled and systematically duped by the Semitic perversions of the ancient
“wisdom”. There was indeed “a fall” from the foothold first attained by the Egyptians to the dismal swamp of the Assyrian and Hebrew legends. In Egyptian mythology compared with the Babylonian the same types that represent evil in the one had represented good in the other. The old Great Mother of Evil, called the Dragon-horse in the Assyrian version, was neither the source nor the product of evil in the original. The serpent-goddess Rannut, as renewer of the fruits of earth in the soil or on the tree, is not a representative of evil. We hold that moral evil in the mythical domain is an abortion of theology which was mainly Semitic in its birth. The Kamite beginning with the Great Mother and the elemental powers which are definite and identifiable enough in the Egyptian wisdom became confused and chimerical in Babylonian and Hebrew versions of the same Sign-language; the dark of a benighted heaven followed day. Elemental evils were converted into moral evil. The types of good and ill were indiscriminately mixed, pre-eminently so in the reproduction of the old Great Mother as Tiamat. Originally she was a form of the Mother-earth, the womb of life, the suckler, the universal mother in an elemental phase. But the types of good and evil were confounded in the later rendering. The creation of evil as a [Page 272] mis-creation of theology is plainly traceable in the Akkadian, BabyIonian , Assyrian, and Hebrew remains. The Great Mother, variously named Tiamat, Zikum. Nin-Ki-Gal, or Nana, was not originally evil. She represented source in perfect correspondence to Apt, Ta-Urt, or Rannut in the Egyptian representation of the Great Mother, who, howsoever hideous, was not bad or inimical to man; the “mother and nurse of all”, the “mother of gods and men”, who was the renewer and bringer forth of life in earth and water. Nor were the elemental offspring evil, although imaged in the shape of monsters or of zootypes. As Egyptian, the seven Anunaki were spirits of earth, born of the Earth-mother in the earth, but they were not wicked spirits. The elements are not immoral. These are a primitive form of the seven great gods who sit on golden thrones in Hades as lords of life and masters of the under-world.
Moreover, the seven Nunu or Anunas can be traced to their Egyptian origin.
In the Cuthean legend of creation we are told that the great gods created “warriors with the body of a bird” and “men with the faces of ravens”. “Tiamat gave them suck” . “Their progeny the mistress of the gods created” . “ In the midst of the (celestial) mountains they grew up and became heroes” and increased in number. “Seven kings, brethren, appeared. as begetters” - who are given names as signs of personality (Babylonian Story of Creation: Records of the Past, N.S., vol. i. p. 149). Now the seven children of the great Mother as Egyptian were produced as two plus five. The Sut and Horus twins were born warriors or fighters. They are portrayed as two birds, the black vulture or raven of Sut and the gold hawk of Horus. These, the first two children imaged as two birds, one of which is black, will or may account for the two bird races, one of which had the face of a raven and were a black race, or were the black-heads” in Akkad. The Sut and Horus twins were succeeded by five other powers, so that there were seven altogether, all brothers, all males or begetters - the seven which constituted a primary order of gods, as fellow-males who were the “Nunu” of Egypt, which became the Anunas or primordial male deities of ancient Babylonia. But the seven nature powers evolved in the Egyptian mythos were the offspring of the great Earth-mother, not the progeny of Apap. They were native to the nether earth, but were not wicked spirits. They are spoken of in the Ritual (ch. 83) as'' those seven Uraeus-deities who are born in Amenta”. The serpent type is employed to denote the power, but it is the good serpent, the Uraeus serpent
of life and of renewal, not the evil reptile Apap. These the Euphrateans changed into the seven evil spirits or devils of their theology. The spawn of Apap in Egypt are the Sebau, which were numberless in physical phenomena and never were portrayed as seven in number. The Euphrateans turned the evil serpent Apap into Tiamat, the old Great Mother in the abyss of birth, where she has been supposed to have brought forth the seven powers of evil and to have been herself the old serpent with seven heads.
In Egypt, happily, we get beyond the rootage of mythology in Babylonia and Akkad. The goddess Rannut was a form of the Earth-goddess as the serpent-mother. The serpent brood or dragon progeny of Rannut are mentioned in the Ritual, where they have become a subject of ancient knowledge in the [Page 273] mysteries (ch. 125). Elsewhere they are called the seven divine Uraei or serpents of life. There are no seven serpents of death, no seven evil serpents, in the Kamite representation. The seven Uraei, though elemental, born of matter, and of the earth earthy, like their mother, are not evil powers; neither are they in the same category with the Sebau of Apap or the Sami-fiends of Sut ; whereas in the Euphratean version these have become seven wicked spirits as the evil brood of the Great Mother Tiamat. They are also portrayed as the seven heads or potencies of an infernal snake, which had been Egyptian, but without the seven heads, the types of good and evil being mixed up together as Euphratean. The Kamite elemental powers were just the powers of the elements represented by zootypes. They might be sometimes fearsome, but they were not baneful. The inimical forces of external nature, the evil spawn of drought, plagues, dearth, and darkness, called the Sebau or the Sami, had preceded these, whereas in Babylonia the two categories are confused and the seven have been reproduced as altogether evil. They are seven-fold in all things evil: seven evil demons, seven serpents of death, seven evil winds, seven wicked spirits; seven in the hollows of the earth, seven evil monsters in the watery abyss; seven evil
incubi, seven plagues. But even these seven baleful and injurious spirits of Babylonia originated as powers of the elements, no matter where. Hence the first is a scorpion of rain ( cf. the curse of rain); the second is a monster with unbridled mouth (thunder); the third is the lightning-flash; the fourth is a serpent; the fifth is a raging dog; the sixth is a tempest; the seventh is the evil wind. Here the whole scheme of evil is meteorological, and is based upon bad northern weather (Sayce, Magical Texts, H. L., p. 463). The theological perversion and the degradation of the type are traceable in Babylonia. The seven serpent powers were originally the same. In Egypt they are the seven spirits of the earth. And of the seven in Babylonia it is said in the magical text from Eridu: “those seven in the earth were born. Those seven in the earth grew up. Those seven from the earth have issued forth” (Sayce, H. L., pages 463 to 469). Only in Babylonia the Great Mother as the crocodile type of water has been confounded with the Apap-reptile of evil, and made to spawn the evil powers in the darkness of later ignorance. We can watch the change in a Babylonian version of the mythos. The seven nature forces here originated as seven evil powers; they were “rebellious spirits” and “workers of calamity” that were “born in the lower part of heaven”, or the firmamental deep. (War of the Seven Evil Spirits: Records, vol. v.; also vol. ix, 143.)They are called “the forces of the deep” , for ever rising in rebellion. In short, they are one with the Sebau of the Ritual, who were the progeny of Apap, which have been confounded with the “seven” elemental spirits who were not originally evil. The beneficent great Mother-earth who had been imaged by the sloughing serpent as a type of renewal and re juvenescence was transmogrified into the serpent of theology, the very devil in a female guise, the author of evil that was ultimately represented as a woman who became the mother of the human race, and who doomed her offspring to eternal torment ere she gave them birth in time. The Hebrews follow the [Page 274] Babylonians in confusing the Uraeus-serpent of life with the serpent of death. The primal curse was brought into the world by Apap the reptile of drought, dearth, and darkness, plague and disease, but the evil serpent began and ended in physical phenomena. Apap never was a spiritual type, and was never divinized, not even as a devil. The beneficent serpent Rannut represents the mother of life, the giver of food in fruits of the earth or the tree.
She is portrayed as the mother both in the form of a serpent and also as the human mother. But good and evil have been badly mixed together in the Hebrew version of the Babylonian perversion of the Egyptian wisdom.
The way in which the Kamite mythos was converted into Semitic legendary lore and finally into Biblical history is palpably apparent in the story of the fall. The woman offering fruit as temptress in the tree was previously represented in Sign-Ianguage as the serpent which was the symbol of renewal in the tree, as is shown when the reptile offers the fruit to the man. Thence came the serpent-woman, who was a compound of the zootype and the anthrotype, and who was damned as Mother Eve, and deified as Rannut, the giver of the fruits of earth. Conclusive evidence of the way that changes were made in the appropriation of the prototypes and their re-adaptation to the change of fauna and likewise of later theology, can be shown in relation to the primordial great mother who is Tiamat in Babylonia. One of her typical titles is the “dragon-horse” , and as the Egyptians had no horse, it might be fancied at first sight that such a compound type as the dragon-horse, which also figures in Chinese mythology, was not Egyptian. The ancient Egyptians had no horse, and their dragon was a crocodile. The hippopotamus was their first water-horse as male - that is, the water-bull. As female it was the water-cow. Now, the old first genetrix Apt (Khept, or Ta-Urt), when represented as a compound figure is a hippopotamus, that is the water-horse, in front, and a crocodile, that is the dragon, behind. The dual type of Tiamat the dragonhorse is based on the crocodile and hippopotamus, which are to be seen combined in the two-fold
character of the great Mother Apt, and these two animals were unknown to the fauna of Akkad and Babylonia.Thus as Babylonian they are not derived directly from nature, but from the mythology and the zootypes that were already extant in Egypt as African.
Horus, as Sebek, was the great fish of the inundation, typical of food and water. This great fish is the crocodile, which was applied to Horus as a figure of force in his capacity of solar god, the crocodile in Egypt being a prototype of the mythical dragon - not the evil dragon, but the solar dragon, which was known in relation to Sebek and to Saturn as the dragon of life. In one of the Greco-Egyptian planispheres this dragon keeps its original form and remains a crocodile. It is portrayed as a constellation of enormous magnitude, and is truly the great fish of Horus-Sebek that was first of all a figure of the inundation constellated in the stellar mythos and reapplied to the power that crossed the waters as the solar Horus of the double horizon (Drummond, Oed. Jud. PI. 2). The only form of evil to be found in the abyss was
the dark and deadly power of drought, that, as feared, might drink or dry up all the water. This was figured as the Apap-reptile [Page 275] or some other form of the monster Hydra, the prototypal serpent of the sea. The mother of life in the abyss was the giver of water as the wet nurse of the world, not the destroyer of the water.
In Babylonia the tree of life was changed into a tree of death.The serpent in the tree that offers fruit for food, as Rannut, the giver of food and representative of Mother-earth, was transformed into the evil serpent that “brought death into the world and all our woe” , but which had originated as a beneficent figure in the Kamite representation of external nature. The transmogrifying of Tiamat, the mother of all and suckler of the seven elemental powers, into the dragon of evil might be followed on other lines of descent, as in the conflict of Bel-Merodach and the dragon. In the Egyptian representation Apap the dragon of drought is drowned in the water by Horus of the inundation, whose weapon therefore is the water flood. Now in warring with Tiamat the deluge is the “mighty weapon “wielded by Bel”. Bel (launched) the deluge, his mighty weapon, against Tiamat, inundating her covering” , or drowning the dragon of drought. Thus Tiamat is destroyed by Bel with the deluge, where Apap was drowned by Horus in the inundation. This again shows that the great Mother Tiamat, the suckler, as the giver of water, had been converted into the evil dragon of drought. The good crocodile has also been transmuted into the evil dragon and portrayed as falling down head foremost from the starry summit of heaven to be trodden under foot and crushed beneath the heel of Horus, who is Herakles in Greece, Krishna in India, Merodach in Assyria. It was the same with other fauna. The pregnant hippopotamus was changed for the always female bear or the pregnant woman. The two dogs have been substituted for the two jackals of the south and north, the first two openers of the roads in heaven. The eagle of Zeus takes the place of the hawk of Ra, and the raven, the black Neh of Sut; the legend follows, and the conflict betwixt the eagle and the serpent is substituted for that of the warring hawk and serpent in the Egyptian mythos. The huge Apap-reptile of drought and darkness has been supplanted by the chimerical monster that is slain by Gilgames the solar god. And when the totemic matriarchate has been followed by the patriarchate, and the goddess of the “living word” in heaven has been changed in the Euphratean system for the lord who is “the voice of the firmament”; when the waterman has replaced the multi mammalian wateress, the cow or sow of an earlier system of signs; when the heroes, or mighty ones, have been superseded by simple shepherds of the heavenly flocks - it becomes a question of very minor import who made the
changes and forged the counterfeits, or whether the originals were deliberately disguised by the Akkadians or Babylonians, Phoenicians or Greeks.
In the course of the present inquiry we shall learn that the creation exoterically described in the Semitic legends of the beginning was not cosmogonical. Neither was it what one writer has called it, “the cosmography of appearances, (Schiaparelli, Astronomy in the Old Testament). It was Uranography, not cosmography, and uranography is Sign language constellated in the stars. That which has been called “chaos” in the “legends of creation” was a condition in which there was neither law nor order, time nor name, nor means [Page 276] of representing natural phenomena. But it does not mean there were no natural phenomena because there had been no mode of expression. “Things” existed even when they had no name or record in the Babylonian mythology. It was never pretended in the Egyptian wisdom that there was any creation of the elements. Ground to stand on, food to eat, water to drink, air to breathe, had always been, and were in no wise dependent upon any mode of representation; whereas the mythical representation did depend upon the elements or nature-forces being already extant to be named or to be constellated and become pictorial for the purpose of the mystery teachers. In no land or literature has the mythical mode of representation been perverted and reduced to drivelling foolishness more fatally than in some of the Hebrew legends, such as that of Jonah and the great fish, which is connected with the origin of the fish-man in mythology who was born of a fish mother whom we shall identify with the constellation of the southern fish, and Horus of the inundation. The most ancient type of the fish was
female, as a representative of the great Mother-earth in the water. This as Egyptian was the crocodile.
She was the suckler of crocodiles in the inundation. She was the bringer forth as the great fish or crocodile in the astronomical mythology. One of her children was the crocodile-headed Sebek, who made the passage of the Nun by night as sun god in the solar mythos. The fish-man was at first the crocodile of Egypt, next the crocodile-headed figure of Horus who is called “the crocodile god in the form of a man” (Rit. Ch. 88). The deceased assumes this form to cross the waters in the nether-world, because it had been a figure of the solar god in the mythology. The conversion of the crocodile god in the Nun to the fish-man of Babylonia is thus made plausible. Jonah is a form of the fish-man in the Biblical story (which is neither mythology nor eschatology), and therefore a figure of the solar god who made the passage of the waters as Horus the crocodile or as Ea the fish-man of Nineveh. As usual in later legend, the anthropomorphic rendering refaces and thus defaces the type. It was the fish itself that swam the waters of the inundation. It was the typical fish that swam the nocturnal waters, or the sun god represented by the mighty fish, whereas, this being “history” , Jonah is made mere man, and therefore needed the great fish to carry him across the Nun or to land him at Nineveh. Birth, or rebirth, from the great fish in the Lower Nun is one of the oldest traditions of the race. It was represented in the mysteries and constellated in the heavens as a means of memorial. The great fish that landed Jonah on dry ground may still be seen as “Ketos” with its enormous mouth wide open at the point of emanation from the Nun, just where the landing-place on earth is represented in the equatorial regions on the celestial chart.
Naturally there would be some changes in the constellations with the change of fauna as the primitive wisdom passed from land to land, but that is a different matter from working the oracle of the celestial orrery on behalf of false and therefore all the more virulent theology. It can be demonstrated that the astronomical mythology of Egypt passed into Akkad and Babylonia, with the race of the Cushite “blackheads”, to become the wisdom of the “Chaldees” and the Persian magi in after ages, including such primary types as [Page 277] the abyss of the beginning in the lower firmament, the Great Mother as a fish or dragon = crocodile in the abyss, and the fish-man born of the fish-mother from the abyss.
According to the legend related by Berosos, a divine fish-man, Oannes, or Oan, who had his dwelling in the Persian Gulf or Erythrean Sea, came forth from thence to teach the Chaldeans all they ever knew, when, as it is said in the native tradition, the people wisely “repeated his wisdom” ( W. A. .l, ii. 16, 37-71).
In all probability the instructor as a fish-man in Babylonia was represented by Ea, whose consort was Davki or Davkina, the Earth-mother corresponding to the Egyptian Great Mother, one of whose names was Tef. “Among the chief deities reverenced by the rulers of Telloh was one whose name is expressed by the ideographs of a ‘fish' and an 'enclosure', which served in later days to denote the name of Nina or Nineveh” (Sayce, Rib. Lectures, p. 281). The same sign, i.e., of a fish, and enclosure in the Egyptian hieroglyphics, signifies An, to appeal, to show, to teach, as did the fish-man. An in Egyptian is a name of the teacher, the scribe, the priest. An was the fish in Egypt. An, with the fish for ideograph, is an ancient throne name that was found by Lepsius among the monumental titles on a tomb near the Pyramids of Gizeh (Bunsen, Egypts Place, vol. ii. p. 77). This An, to show, to reveal, An, the fish of the enclosure, An, the teacher, as the fish, is the likeliest original of the Oan or Oannes who issued from the waters to show the Babylonians how to live, as the mythos was reflected in the later legend. Horus-Sebek was the earliest fish-man known to mythology. He calls himself the fish in the form of a man. Yet he issued from the female fish as a fish, the crocodile as son from the crocodile as Apt the mother and not as a man ejected from the mouth of a fish, as the legend reads when ignorantly literalized. The fish-mother also survived in the divine lady Nina, who was represented by the ideograph of a fish enclosed in a basin of water (Sayce, Hib. L., p. 37), which has the same significance as the fish-mother in the lake at Ascalon.
But to reach a beginning the bottom must be plumbed in the abyss or nether parts of the firmamental Nun upon the outside of the mount by means of which the earth was imaged in the astronomical mythology. The abyss was known by various names in different versions of the mythos. It is the Phoenician baev or deep. It is the bau of the Hebrew Genesis. It is the bau or bahu as Egyptian. The word bahu is also a name for the god of the inundation called the power of the southern lakes. “I am Bahu the Great” is said four times over (in the Magic Papyrus) at the breaking forth of the water power from its southern source in the abyss of the dragon, the crocodile, or the Southern Fish (Records, vol. x.
p. 149). The Egyptian also has an earlier form of the word bahu in “bab” , for the well or whirlpool as a welling source of water. Another term for this outrance from the Nun is the tepht, which signifies the abyss, the source, the outlet. The Tiavat or Thavath of Berosos is a form of the Great Mother as a type of the watery abyss which is the Egyptian tepht, the abyss, the source, the well, the hole from whence the water issues, the dwelling underground where the dragon-horse gave suck to her brood of monsters in the earth. Tepht or Tept is also an Egyptian name for the old first Great Mother as a [Page 278] figure of source. This likewise had been applied to the place of emanation for the waters of the Nile which issued from the well of source, the bahu, tepht, or tuat. But the tepht of source, the lair of the dragon, the “hole of the snake” had been the outrance of the Nile from the abyss before there was a goddess Thavath or Tiamat in Assyria. So was it with the bau, bahu, or bab. These names had been applied to the source of the inundation itself and localized in Egypt before they were repeated in the astronomical mythology to become a subject of Semitic legendary lore. The bau, the bahu, or bab is Egyptian. The tepht and tuat are likewise Egyptian; and these names had been (already) applied to the source of the inundation and to the facts of earth that formed the mould of the astronomical mythology.
In the later Semitic legend it was said the earth was founded on the flood, as if it were afloat upon the water of the abyss. But according to the primary expression the earth stood on its own bottom in the water, at the fixed centre, with the tree upon the summit as a figure of food and water in vegetation. The mythical abyss of the beginning was the welling-place of water underground where life was brought to birth by the Great Mother from the womb of the Abyss. In the Ritual this is described as the tuat, a place of entrance to and egress from the lower earth of Amenta. It is a secret Deep that nobody can fathom, which sends out light in the dark, and “its offerings are eatable plants” . It is the birthplace of water and vegetation, and therefore, more abstractly, of life. The bottomless pit is a figure that was derived from this unplumbed deep inside the earth itself. From this abyss the Mother-earth (as womb of life) had brought forth her elemental progeny as the perennial renewers of food to eat, water to drink, and air to breathe.
The tuat in the recesses of the south is likewise identified in the hymns as the secret source of the river Nile, which is thus traced to the abyss. Such was the birthplace of the beginning, the birthplace of water in the beginning from which the papyrus plants arose as the primeval food, and as the fact is registered in the Ritual. In the Magic Papyrus the abyss is comprehensively spoken of as “the water's well” . It is the habitat of the dragon called “the crocodile coming out of the abyss” . It is also the lair of the Apapmonster, of whom it is said by Shu, “If he who is in the water opens his mouth, I will let the earth fall into the water's well” , being the “south made north, or the earth turned upside down” (Records, vol. x.). Here the two dragons can be identified together as the crocodile-dragon of water and the Apap-dragon of drought, that were at war from the beginning as antagonists in the abyss. The strife in the abyss was betwixt the crocodile of water and the fiery dragon of drought, the two dragons of good and evil, Sebek- Horus and the dragon or reptile of Apap. Both were born of the abyss; hence the Scholia on ch. 17 of the Ritual add, “The devourer comes from the lake of Puanta” , or the water of the abyss which the Egyptians traced to the “recesses” in the south. The beginning in heaven, as on earth, was with water. Water was the first thing rendered uranographically, not created, in the southern hemisphere. This when gathered into one place “ was localized as “the water” . The [Page 279] Egyptians had a huge southern constellation dedicated to Menat the wet-nurse, called “the Stars of the Water” (Egyptian Calendar of Astronomical Observations ). The “Southern Fish” and “Ketos” are both depicted in this water of the south or the abyss.
Aratos, speaking of the stars in the neighbourhood of these great fishes or monsters of the deep, says “they are all of them called' the water'” (Aratos, line 399, Brown). Earth, the Great Mother, was imaged as the breeder of life and the bringer forth from this abyssal water in the south. She was represented in two mythical characters. In one she is the mother who brought forth on dry ground, as the hippopotamus (or its equivalent type); in the other she was the mother of life in water who is figured as the Southern Fish low down in the deep of the southern heaven.
In mythology that which has been called “creation” begins with duplicating by dividing: darkness was divided from light, dry land as breathing-place was divided from water; the north was divided from the south, and earth was divided from heaven, as in the Japanese creation. So the power of the two monsters (in the Book of Enoch) “became separated on the same day, one being in the depths of the sea and one in the desert” - that is, one in the water, as Leviathan ( the crocodile or dragon ), and one as the hippopotamus on dry ground. Enoch asks the angel to show him “the power of those monsters and how they became separated on the same day of creation, one in the depths of the sea, above the springs of
waters, and one in the dry desert” . It is said of the two monsters that they had been prepared by the people of God to become food. In this there is a broken ray of the refracted mythos. The two monsters had represented food and drink from the first, one as the mother of life in the earth, the other in the waters. These two monsters were prepared for food in the garden or enclosure of the beginning. The name of one is Behemoth, the name of the other Leviathan. Behemoth is the Egyptian Bekhamut, the female hippopotamus, and Leviathan answers to the crocodile or dragon of the deep. The rabbis repeated a true tradition when they rendered the Biblical “Behemoth” not as a plural of majesty, but as a pair of beasts. They were a pair of beasts in the mythology of Egypt. The female Behemoth was the original Great Mother Kep, or Apt; the male was her son. The crocodile also, as zootype, was both male and female. For his purpose, however, Enoch makes Leviathan male monster and Behemoth female. Of course the type is or may be differentiated by the sex. The two monsters in the Egyptian starry scheme are both female as two forms of the Great Mother, who was the hippopotamus in her fore-part and the crocodile behind, or the crocodile in the south and the hippopotamus in the north. Thus the hippopotamus and crocodile which were natural in the Nile had become two huge, indefinite monsters of
legendary lore in the Book of Enoch, and the two survived as the types of dry and wet, for land and water. The suggestion now to be made is that the two monsters of dry and wet, or earth and water, were constellated as the Southern Fish and Ketos, or the Whale, but that the whale has been substituted for the hippopotamus by the Euphrateans or the Greeks.
The Southern Fish on the celestial globe is portrayed in the act of [Page 280] emaning a stream of water from its mouth, whereas the monster Ketos is depicted as the breather out of the water, the two being representative of the earth as the mother of life in the water called the abyss. In the Sut and Horus mythos the first two children of the ancient mother represent the conditions of dry and wet. They were born twin because the conditions were co-extant in earth and water. In the course of time everything that was dry, desiccative, or of the desert was ascribed to Sut, whereas the products of water were assigned to Horus. Hence the two monsters were continued as types of the twins. The hippopotamus of earth as male was given to Sut. The crocodile of water was given to Horus, to typify the fish as food of the inundation.
The “abyss of waters” is described by Berosos as the habitat of most hideous beings, which had been produced by a “two-fold principle” that was as yet undiscreted into wet and dry. “The person who was said to have presided over them was a female named Omoroca” . Then came Belos “and cut the woman asunder, and of one half formed the earth, and of the other half the heaven or firmament” . This is a mode of discreting the two-fold principle of the dry earth and the celestial water. The story told by Berosos is a later legendary form of the mythos. The duplication of the mother-hood is the same, but with a change of type. The later woman has taken the place of the cow that was cut in two, divided, or made twain as the water-cow of earth and the milch-cow of heaven. Omoroca is the Great Mother who was one as the representative of earth, and was then divided to become the representative of earth and water. The formation of earth and heaven out of the halves is identical with separating earth and water and distinguishing wet from dry.
The “creation” with which we are now concerned is uranographic as a mode of fashioning and giving names to the earliest constellation figures, those that were truly primitive. Thus in the beginning of the astronomical mythology there is a figure of uncreated ground that stands in space or amidst the firmamental water.
If we use the word “creation” , which has been so ignorantly abused, the first creation figured in the astronomical mythology was the birth of water or, more abstractly, of life from the water, the source whence came the inundation with its blessings to the rain less land of Egypt. As Plutarch reports, the Egyptians held that water was “the beginning and origin of all things” - that was, as an element of life.
Hence in the Osirian mysteries the throne of the Eternal rested on the element of water, and Horus the child-saviour, the Messu or Messiah, came by water in the power of the southern lakes. So in the building of the heavens the beginning was with water, or the firmament imaged in its aerial likeness. Thus it might be said the heaven was made from water, as it is said in the Babylonian “legends of creation” , the water based on being the abyss of source. According to the present reading of the data, water had been recognized as the first and most vital element of life. Hence the beginning of all recorded human thought with water. Water in Africa was life indeed, where drought was very death. Horus on his papyrus as lord of water was the lord or life. One Egyptian name for [Page 281] heaven is kabhu, derived from water, or the inundation, as “the cool” and that which makes cool. Paradise was where water was plenteous.
Hence water was divinized as heaven, and heaven is figured in the hieroglyphics as water suspended overhead, the firmament being held aloft on four sustaining props as water lifted up. There was no such crying want of water in Babylonia, no such devouring dragon of drought in Akkad, therefore no such raison d'etre for the origin from water as in Africa.
The birth of water from the abyss of earth is figured in the “Southern Fish” . The star Fomalhaut at the mouth of the Fish denotes the point of emergence whence the stream is seen ascending from its source beneath the constellation of Aquarius. A soul of life from the element of water was manifested by the fish as Horus the crocodile, also by Horus cradled on the water-plant. Thus the water element was fundamental in the making of the heavens. This was as the firmamental water. Earth as the mother of life and giver of water was portrayed in the abyss as a great fish emaning water from its mouth, which represents the fact that the earth in the abyss had been already recognized as giver of life because it was the source of water, the primary wateress or the wet-nurse of mythology. She, the Great Mother, as we read the heavenly story-book, was next constellated in the Southern Fish as the producer of life and sustenance from water in the unfathomable abyss.
In various legends there is a beginning with a world all water. This is one with the Egyptian Nu or Nun. In the beginning was the Nun. Thus saith the primordial word. Not in the beginning of the heavens and earth, but in the beginning of the uranographic representation or entification in the astronomical mythology. The Nun is a name in Egyptian for the firmament when imaged in the similitude of water, the world that was all water at the intellectual starting-point. There is a relic of the ancient wisdom on one of the Assyrian tablets, the gnosis of which we hold to be Egyptian, and that as such it can be unriddled and read. As it is said, “the heaven was created from the waters”. The earth was pre-existent. This is called the work of “Ansar and Kisar” , Who ” created the earth“, i.e., when “creation” had been rendered cosmogonically. But “the heaven was created from the waters” which were firmamental and uranographic. The non-Semitic legend of Cutha describes the beginning with a condition of non-entity or pre-entity; there was nothing but an amorphous world of water. As it is said, “the whole of the lands were sea”; “the abyss had not been made” below, nor was there any seat of the gods above. There was no field of reeds; no tree of life had been planted in the midst of an enclosure. There flowed no stream from the abyss “within the sea” of the celestial water (Pinches, T.G., Records of the Past, 2nd Series, vol. vi. page 107; Sayce, Assyrian Story Of Creation, New Series, vol. i. pages 133 to 153). This, when
bottomed, means that configuration of the signs in the astronomical mythology had not as yet begun. But as space the firmamental water was extant, and dry earth itself had stood for ever in the midst thereof;
earth and water were the uncreated substance which had no beginning, any more than they had in the
Egyptian Nun. The monsters born of Tiamat had their home in the ground of earth. It was there she suckled [Page 282] them. Earth as the natural fact preceded the abyss in the astronomy. As Professor Sayce observes, somewhat naïvely, “There was already an earth by the side of the deep” (H. L., p. 377).
No. Earth was the ground to go upon in the deep, and this was the Mother-earth which brought forth in and from the deep that was depicted as the abyss, or as the Great Fish in “the water” of the southern heaven. It was in the extreme south that the Babylonians also placed their entrance to the under-world or the abyss. That is where the Egyptians had already localized the outrance from this mysterious region whence the inundation came. Here was the “Ununait” or place of springing up that was first applied to water in the pre-solar mythos, the water that was pictured in its rising from the fish's mouth.
The abyss or great deep of the beginning was represented in the mysteries as the Lake of the Great Fish. It was related by Ktêsias of Knidos that the sacred lake was seen at Bambykê or Hierapolis. It was also said that in this lake the life of Derketo, daughter of Aphrodite, was saved by the fish. And as the great fish of Kam was the crocodile, the likelihood is that the Lake Meoris, sacred to the crocodiles in Egypt, was also a form of the lake which represented the place of birth that was commemorated in the mysteries and told of in the legends as the abyss of the beginning, the birthplace or fontal source of water=life. A figure of the “abyss” or “deep” survives still in the “basin” . Large ewers filled with water were used for purificatory rites in the Babylonian temples. These were called apsu, for “deeps” or “abysses”.
Tanks were used by the Egyptians for their baptistries. The baptismal font still images the fount of source.
As a mythical or celestial locality the Gulf of Eridu is a mundane form of the abyss that was in the beginning. This was the birthplace where the Earth-mother brought forth as a dragon or great fish, the mistress in the abode of the fish. Hence it was the place from whence not only the fish-man Oannes, but the seven fish-like men or annedoti, ascended before the time of the Assyrian deluge. The source of water underground most naturally suggested the idea of a primordial deep, an unfathomable gulf, a bottomless pit. This was then applied to the point of beginning in the lower Nun or firmamental water where the abyss was figure in the uranographic representation.
If, as we suggest, the story of the heavens was written by the race here generalized as “the Egyptians”, and if that race descended from the equatorial regions like the great river flowing from its source, it is to the southern hemisphere we must look for the imagery which first reflects the mythology. The southern constellations are comparatively few, but their character in relation to the Egyptian wisdom is unmistakable. Besides which, these uranographs of the beginning, or the first time, could not all have originated as Euphratean, because so many of the stars were too far south to be seen or constellated in Akkad or Babylonia.
The Southern Fish is figured as the bringer forth of water - that is, of life or of Horus the fish from the abyss. Ketos the monster represents the mother in another character. This, as we suggest, is the mother in the water emaning life upon dry land as did the water-cow. The head of the monster is half out of the deep, with jaws agape and gasping like a fish on dry ground, sufficient to show that [Page 283] these are a fish-form of the dual motherhood that was imaged as a crocodile and water-cow, as two cows, as two women, or as the woman Omoroca, who was cut in halves by Belos. If the sphere is carefully examined it will be seen that a stream of water is gushing upwards from the fish's mouth and apparently ascending towards the figure of Aquarius on the ecliptic. Hitherto it has been assumed that water in heaven always ran downwards from the northern pole into the abyss of the south; that the water from the urn of Aquarius was being poured into the mouth of the Southern Fish, and the river Eridanus started from the star Rigel at the foot of Orion and came to an end at the star Achernar, its course being from north to south, or from right to left of the sphere. But this reckoning has now to be reversed.
On the celestial globe, then, the life of the world that was born of water and imaged as Ichthus the fish is represented still as issuing from the mouth of “the Southern Fish” . The word that issued from the fish's mouth is mentioned by the writer of a hymn to Merodach, in which it is said, “The holy writing of the mouth of the deep is thine” (Sayce, Hib. Lectures, p. 99). If this is rightly rendered, the word of Ichthus had then become the written word. Still, it issued from the mouth of the deep, which was that of the fish mother, or the fish's mouth. Now, the mystical emblem known by name as the vesica piscis is still a form of the fish's mouth , or outrance into life. The present writer once thought the vesica was uterine. And it is such as a co-type, but not in its origin, because the child first born of it was not the human child! It is the emaning mouth of that fish which gave birth to water as the life of the world and to the saviour who came to Egypt by water as the fish of the inundation. In the language of obstetrics, the outrance of birth is called the os tincae or tench's mouth. That is the mouth of the fish, not because the origin in this instance was uterine, but because the fish's mouth was first, and this has been continued as a symbol of the birthplace when that which was pre-human was reapplied to the human organ. In the course of doctrinal development geometrical and anatomical figures are blended in the vesica as a symbol of the womb. It was not so when the great mother (of life in water) was imaged in the Southern Fish. It becomes so, to all appearance, when the door of life is figured in the shape of a vesica at the feminine (or western) end of a Christian church. The fish's mouth was figured in the heavens as the primordial door of outrance into life when the soul of life came to the world by water. And although the true meaning may have been suppressed by over-laying the doctrine, enough survives in the symbols to show that the child Christ in the Virgin's arms encircled by the vesica piscis has the same significance as had the figure in the planisphere where the water of life is issuing from the fish's mouth, and the star of annunciation is the star Fomalhaut. Only the water of life, still represented by Ichthus the fish, is personalized in later iconography by the human child as the type of eternal re juvenescence. The oval being a co-type with the fish's mouth, the Virgin and her child are a later equivalent for the divine mother bringing forth her fish in
the lake, piscina, basin, or other water type of the primordial abyss, as in the astronomical mythology.
The vesica survives in Freemasonry as well as in the [Page 284] Christian Church, which was founded on the fish and font in Rome. It represented an archetypal and ineffable mystery as a geometrical symbol, not one that was simply anatomical. Speaking of the vesica, Dr. Oliver says this mysterious figure vesica piscis possessed an un-bounded influence on the details of sacred architecture, and it constituted the great and enduring secret of our ancient brethren. The plans of religious buildings are determined by its use, and the proportions of length and height were dependent on it alone (Oliver Descrip., p. 109).
The springs of water issuing forth as from the breast of the Mother-earth made her the wet-nurse to her children. As Apt she nursed her hippopotami; as Rerik she gave milk to her young swine; as Neith she was the suckler of her crocodiles; as Hathor, the cow-headed, she was the milch-mother who was said to give the white liquor that the glorified ones love. In each of these forms she was a type of Mother-earth, as we learn from the mythology.
The mundane source of water touches the origin of what has been designated the worship “of wells and springs, which was at first a propitiation of the superhuman power of Mother-earth by those who needed water, and who, like the Egyptians, sought to be nursed at the dugs of the cow when reborn above as the glorified. In Ireland there could be no religious place without a holy weIl. St. Columbkille is said to have “sained” three hundred well-springs that were swift [running]” (Whitley Stokes, Three Middle Irish Homilies). “Well worship”, so called, is propitiation of the power in the well. This was the spirit of running water, which as an element had the credit of giving life and the power of purifying. The doctrine is extant as Osirian in the Ritual (ch. 17), where the water is a lake of healing at which all defects are washed away and all stains obliterated. The speaker says, “I am purified at the two great lakes” (the lake of natron and the lake of salt) which purify (or sain) the offerings that living men (on earth) present to the great god who is there - that is, Osiris, who had taken the place of the mother as the source of life in water. The point is that the water purified or sained the offerings that were made to the power in the lake or well or living spring. But the Great Mother was the first to be solicited for water - she who was the wateress in the abyss, the primary Great Mother in mythology, the water-cow as Apt in Egypt, the waterhorse as Tiamat in Babylonia.
The primordial abyss had originated as the source of water in the earth. The well-spring underground was the fact in nature upon which the fabled fount of immortality and the subterranean lake of the waters of life were founded in the divine nether-earth. Water generated by the earth was that which came from very source itself thus visualized as wet-nurse of the world. Every spring or bubbling fount of liquid life that issued from this source below was suggestive of a deep without a bottom; the tepht, the bab, or bau of source that was afterwards represented in the astronomical mythology and constellated at the very foundation of the southern heaven as the mystical abyss. The first abyss was in the earth. The abyss of firmamental water is outside the earth; it is figurative because celestial. The Nun was heaven entified as water. But there had [Page 285] been two waters actual in external nature, as the waters that rose up in the fountains, wells, and springs of earth, and the water that fell in dew and rain from heaven. This was portrayed as falling from the tree of wet, which is the Egyptian tree of N ut or of heaven as water. Thence water from the well was the water of earth, and water from the tree was the water of heaven. These two water sources in earth and heaven were figured as the abyss or well below and the tree of rain above, with Apt or Hathor the Mother-earth in the abyss, and Nut the heavenly mother in the tree of wet above.
And these two types seen in the well and tree are universal signs of so-called “water worship” with the oldest races in the world. The holy Well or water-hole is commonly found beneath the sacred moisturedropping tree. The stone erected as an altar underneath the tree is almost as common. This was a place of propitiation and appeal to the elemental power. Libations of blood were poured out on the stone.
Offerings were suspended on the tree; gifts were cast into the well and magical invocations made. The well suffices to establish the fact that the primitive want was water. But the source was dual in the water of earth and the water of heaven. The source in earth was imaged in the well as a form of the abyss. The water that fell from heaven was imaged by the tree of Nut. The altar-stone is representative of earth.
Thus it is a meeting-point for the sycamore of Nut (the tree of celestial water, as Egyptian), the altar of earth, and the abyss of water under the earth. The object of the rite is the spirit or power that sends the water from its “double source” in earth and heaven, with the stone as altar for the sacrificial offering. The Egyptian old first mother, who is a hippopotamus in front and crocodile behind, and who is repeated in the Babylonian dragon-horse Tiamat, still survives in British tradition as the water-horse or kelpie, and also as the dragon. The river Yore near Middleham is held to be haunted by a water-horse (Longstaffe, Richmondshire, p. 96). The River Auld Grandt, that springs from Loch Glaish in Ross-shire, is dreaded as the abode of the water-horse. Sometimes the presiding power of the water in the well is indicated by the fish, sometimes by the frog. Once the dragon of drought left his co-type in a northern holy well. At the
Devil's Causeway between Ruckley and Acton there is a well in which the animal type is the frog, and the largest of these, which naturally enough appears but seldom, represents the devil Apap. In one instance two old women are said to keep the secret of the water. These are equivalent to the two fish, the two cows, and the woman who was cut in two.
The double source of water having been identified as the water of earth and the water of heaven, the type of duality was applied to the firmamental water in the astronomical mythology, and heaven, as water, was divided into the two waters of the lower and upper firmament, the typical being founded as a figure of the actual. These two waters are also constellated in the two celestial rivers of Eridanus and the Milky Way. The one reflects the river of the inundation, therefore the water of earth below, emaning from the lower Nun or the mythical abyss. The other is the “great stream” of the Via Lactea. The inundation rose up in the south. Its ebullient superhuman forces in the Ritual are called the powers of the south. These powers [Page 286] of the south are in attendance “at the moment when the lord of his flood is carried forth and brings to its fulness the force that is hidden within him” (ch.64). And when once we know which way
the river runs in heaven, Achernar in Eridanus becomes our guide star from the south. From that the river travels northward to Orion's foot, or rather to the point at which Orion rises up as Horus of the inundation.
Otherwise Horus is brought to birth on his papyrus, as depicted in the Egyptian drawings.
The two waters of earth and heaven are both recognizable in the double source assigned to the river Nile. In some of the traditions it is described as emanating from the abyss of earth, in others as falling from the skies. Both origins are mentioned in the Hymn to the Nile. In the first stanza the water is said to descend from heaven. In line thirteen we are told that “the Nile has made its retreat in Southern Egypt. Its name is not known beyond the Tuat” . Thus the retreat of the Nile in the south is identifiable with the abyss as the earthly source of the inundation, and its name is not known beyond the boundary of that other world from whence it issues. In Inner Africa the rains came from the cool heaven (Kabhu) of the north, and therefore in that quarter (or half) was the creatory and source of the celestial waters, as the
fact was figured for ever in the constellation of the Water-Cow. In the hymns of adoration to the Nile the river is addressed as coming forth and bringing all good things to Egypt from the north, whereas the geographical Nile came with the inundation from the south. The Nile that issued from the two lakes of a double source was celestial in the north. The Nile that “made its retreats in Southern Egypt” (hymn 13) was the mundane Nile which came from the north to the south above, and from the south to the north below. As Hor-Apollo shows, two of the Egyptian vases denoted water from a double source, one being the earth as generator of water, the other heaven when the rains fell in the southern parts of Athiopaeia (B. I. 2 I ). The urn was a figure of the inundation.
Aquarius was called the constellation of the Urn by the Arab astronomers. We shall understand the sign of “Krater” better if we take it is an extra-zodiacal image of the urn, which not only represented the inundation and its bounty, but also the abyss of source from which the weIling waters came. The two urns are followed by the two vases at a later stage. Howsoever poured out, water was the primary means of fertilization. When the goddess pours out a libation from her vase - or two divine personages from two vases - on the water plant or shoot of palm, the signification is the same as when the wet-nurse Hathor suckles Horus as a child of Neith the crocodile as a calf. According to the most primitive imagery in Egypt, the waters of the inundation issued from the Mother-earth as the water-cow, the wateress in the primordial abyss or water source. But when the sky was looked to as a source of water, heaven was represented as the milch-cow, and the river flowing from the highest source was imaged as the Milky Way. Thenceforth there were two cows. The cow of earth was the water-cow, and the milch-cow was the cow of heaven. The water-cow of earth was constellated in the stars of the Great Bear, the milch-cow of heaven in the group now known as Cassiopoeia, or the Lady in the Chair, which [Page 287] was the earlier constellation of the Haunch or Meskhen as a figure of the birthplace when the birth was typical of life in water (see fragment from a Theban Tomb, p. 289).
Ancient Egypt - The Light of the world - Egyptian Wisdom and the Hebrew Genesis Part 2
Ancient Egypt - The Light of the World - Egyptian Wisdom and the Hebrew Genesis Part 3